June 29, 2022

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Russia launches an all-out offensive to besiege Ukrainian forces in the east

Russia launches an all-out offensive to besiege Ukrainian forces in the east
  • Kharkiv subway reopens after Russian troops return
  • Russia is trying to encircle Ukrainian forces in the twin cities of Donbass

Kyiv/SLOVENIA, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russian forces launched an all-out offensive to encircle Ukrainian forces in two twin river cities on both sides of a river in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday in a battle that could determine the success or failure of Moscow’s main campaign. in the East.

Exactly three months after Russia invaded Ukraine, authorities in Kharkiv, the second largest city, were expected to open the subway, where thousands of civilians had taken refuge for months under relentless bombardment.

The reopening is emblematic of Ukraine’s biggest military success over the past few weeks: pushing Russian forces largely out of range of artillery fire in Kharkiv, as they did from the capital, Kyiv, in March.

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But the decisive battles of the final stage of the war are still raging south, as Moscow tries to capture the Donbass region in two eastern provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in an enclave on the main eastern front.

The eastern part of the Ukrainian-held Donbass enclave, the city of Severodonetsk on the eastern bank of the Seversky Donets River and its twin Lysehshansk on the western bank became a pivotal battlefield there, with Russian forces advancing from three directions to encircle them.

“The enemy focused its efforts on carrying out an offensive in order to encircle Lyschansk and Severodonetsk,” said Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk, where the two cities were among the last lands still under Ukraine’s control.

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“The intensity of the fire on Severodonetsk has increased several times, it is simply destroying the city,” he said on television, adding that there are about 15,000 people in the city and it is still controlled by the Ukrainian army.

Reuters journalists in the Donbass, who had reached Pakhmut to the west, heard heavy shelling on the highway towards Lysichansk on Monday. Ukrainian armored vehicles, tanks and rocket launchers were headed toward the front lines with buses carrying soldiers.

To the west in Sloviansk, one of Donbass’ largest cities still in Ukrainian hands, sirens sounded on Tuesday morning but the streets were still crowded, with the market packed with children riding bikes and street musicians playing the violin next to a supermarket.

Two empty buses of public transport were heading towards the frontline town of Liman to evacuate civilians from the heavy bombardment there, accompanied by police and a military vehicle.

“Who will bury them?”

Gaidai said Ukrainian forces drove the Russians out of the village of Toshkivka, south of Severodonetsk. This cannot be independently confirmed. Four people were killed in the bombing of a house in Severodonetsk during the night.

The battle there follows the surrender of a Ukrainian garrison in the port of Mariupol last week after nearly three months of a siege in which Kyiv believes tens of thousands of civilians have been killed.

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Russia now controls a continuous area of ​​eastern and southern Ukraine, but has not yet achieved its goal of capturing both Luhansk and Donetsk.

US President Joe Biden, during his meeting with the leaders of Japan, India and Australia in Tokyo, said that the war demonstrated the importance of defending international law and human rights around the world. The day before, he broke with convention to openly say that the United States would use its military to protect Taiwan, the self-governing island claimed by China.

Biden’s remarks on Taiwan are seen as a three-month sign of what Washington and its allies describe as Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine, revitalizing Western resolve on security issues.

Russia’s three-month-old invasion, the largest attack on a European country since 1945, has seen more than 6.5 million people flee abroad, turn entire cities into ruins and impose severe economic sanctions on Moscow.

In a cemetery outside Mariupol, walking through long rows of fresh graves and makeshift wooden crosses, Natalia Volochina, who lost her 28-year-old son fighting for the city, said that many of Mariupol’s dead had no one left to honor their memory.

“Who will bury them? Who will put a plaque?” She asked.

“They don’t have a family.”

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Reporting by Oleksandr Kozhukhar in Lviv, Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets in Kyiv, Trevor Hunnicut in Tokyo, and Reuters journalists in Mariupol and Sloviansk; Written by Peter Graf. Editing by Nick McPhee

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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